Sunday, April 28, 2013

Freshman Tri!

I finished my very first freshman tri!  It was so much fun, and I look forward to doing lots more (and getting a lot faster.)

I did the Windcrest Freshman Tri, designed for beginners, but not limited to first-timers.  I was most nervous about the swim.  It was only 200 meters, but I had done exactly 6 lap swim sessions in the two weeks leading up to the race.  (And that was the only lap swimming I had done in my life.)

Then, of course, there's the transition:  Getting out of the pool, clipped into a bike, off of the bike and into running shoes.  Whew!  It was lot to think about, especially when my body was really more interested in making sure I was breathing than sending extra blood to my brain.

And the pool was cold!  72 degrees.  For the first 15 meters, I had serious freezer brain- like the kind you get from Sonic slushes.  But it wore off and then my only problem was all the other people in the pool.  I knew there would likely be people walking the run, but walking the swim??  And the narrow lanes made passing difficult, especially since a couple people were doing breaststroke- that sort of takes the whole lane, particularly when you have people going in both directions.

I survived the swim, trudged over to my bike, got my shoes on my wet feet, put on my helmet and managed to get clipped in without incident.  (That was my other concern- missing the clip-in and sprawling on the pavement.  It would have been funny, but highly embarrassing.)  I enjoy riding, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a RACE, not a Saturday morning spin through Windcrest.  I caught myself paying WAY too much attention to the scenery.  Ten miles later, I fumbled my way back through transition and pulled on my running shoes.

I missed my music.  For some reason, I have a hard time keeping up a good pace if I don't have music.  Listening to the breeze and the birds singing is nice and all, but it doesn't make me run very fast.  I guess I'll have to practice more "quiet" running.

Crossing the finish line was a major rush, but here I did make a rookie mistake:  I glanced at the time as I crossed and thought that was my time.  "Man, I am SLOW!"  But I finished and that's what counted.  Turns out, that was the time since the beginning of the race, so it included the 25 minutes I spent standing in line waiting to swim.  Live and learn.

I was still pretty slow:  200 m swim- 5:49; 10 mile bike- 37:39; 2 mile run- 19:31.  I definitely need to spend more time riding.  (But not, apparently, in the city of Bulverde.  Check out this story.   A side note to the mayor of Bulverde:  Share the road.  Cyclists vote too.)

I'm especially grateful to my friend Amanda for inspiring me to do this.  She has seven kids too, and she came in first in her age group!  (And, thanks, Anthony, for the pictures!)

Here's to finishing!  And to next time!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Magazines, books, Bible studies, billboards, commercials:  They all create pictures of the "ideal" in our minds- the ideal schedule, the ideal body, the ideal home, the ideal relationship, the ideal spiritual walk.

While we all know deep-down that the ideal is unattainable, its image still moves us and shapes our lives.  Some of us strive to get as close to the ideal as we can, destroying our peace and calm in the process.  Some figure we're so far from it that it's really not even worth trying-we become paralyzed by the tyranny of the ideal.   And all of us have probably spent some time swinging in between the two extremes.

The fact is that, no matter how close to the ideal we come, something can always come along and wreck it.  Becoming a single parent shattered, for me, my striving for a "perfect" family situation.  But, really, all it did was illustrate a very important point: perfection in this life is an illusion.  Nothing will ever be perfect: not the house, not the people we love, not the church, and definitely not the government.  The house will get messy.  The kids will get sick.  People at church will sin.  We will be thoughtless.

So now that we've established that, we really should just give up.  Bring out the chips and flip on the TV.  Perfection is unattainable, so let's all be comfortable.

No, I'm happy to report that all hope is not lost.  Life, although it is not about perfection, is most definitely about forward movement.  Just because things can't be perfect doesn't mean they can't be better.  And the same goes for us:  Just because we can't be perfect doesn't mean we can't be better.  It's easy to use the ideal as an excuse.  "I could never eat a perfect diet.  Pass me that third piece of cake."  "I'll never be one of those Bible scholars.  Let's watch a movie."  "I could never run a marathon.  I'm going to take a nap."

We'll never mature, our lives will never improve, unless we take the first step.  Put down the cake and pick up an apple.  Open that Bible.  Go for a walk.  Life is all about moving forward.  We need to do hard things so that we can grow.  

Peter tells us that God's divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)  Think about it: EVERYTHING.  How does that work itself out practically in the little areas of our lives?  Are we living like people who have "exceedingly great and precious promises," who are "partakers of the divine nature?"  (v.4)

God has put us in the race of life, and we should run it well.  Though Paul admitted that he was not "already perfected," he forged ahead: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:13-14)

So, take the first step.  Be better, not perfect.  Keep moving.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Things that do NOT happen while I'm on the phone:

  • Schoolwork
  • Chores
  • Brotherly (or sisterly) love
  • Reading, puzzles, constructive activities
Things that DO happen while I'm on the phone:
  • Spilled almonds (the 3 pound bag)
  • Spilled soymilk (usually on the carpet)
  • Fist fights 
  • Scraped knees
  • Bumped heads
  • Disappearing bags of chocolate chips
  • Secret playing of video games
  • "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY!!!!"
Yes, there is a reason I rarely answer the phone.  The phone is an instrument of disaster and destruction around here.  Even if all the kids are contentedly playing or working on school, everything explodes the second I pick up that phone.  "Quick- she's distracted.  Do everything you aren't supposed to do!"  Even the pets get in on the plot.  

And on that note, just a quick update:  As of next week, I'll be cutting off my Vonage line and going to just my cell phone.  You'll need to have that number if you need to get a hold of me.  Most of you have it, and if you're not sure, just email me:  aimee(at)hillcountryvillage(dot)com.  (Hint:  If you've been texting me and I never reply, you don't have my cell number.  And texting, by the way, is a far better way to reach me than an actual call.  Less distraction, less destruction.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

He Cares

Just before we moved, I heard Michael Walsh on Hugh Hewitt's show.  Mr. Walsh, an author, apparently had a 22 year old daughter who died unexpectedly at the end of 2011.  He had many interesting and insightful things to say about death and grieving, and I thought I'd share some of what he said here.

(Disclaimer:  I was listening to the radio, not reading a transcript, so I might possibly misrepresent Mr. Walsh's words or meaning, though I'll certainly try not to.  I couldn't find anything that he had written on the subject.  Although that makes sense in light of the fact that he mentioned that he had been fairly private about it up to this point, it also means that I have to rely on my memory of what he said.)

First, he started by talking about the fact that death is a part of life.  This is, of course, obvious, but when death claims someone we love, it's hard to view it as a natural part of the cycle of living on this earth.  Instead, we feel wronged- robbed of something that was dear.

Then, he reflected on how much we want to believe that everything happens for a purpose.  Telling ourselves this can seem helpful during small crises- lost job, temporary illness, interrupted plans- but when it comes to something as final and crushing as death, trying to make sense of it is really beyond our ability.  Mr. Walsh insisted that everything doesn't happen for a purpose.  Some things just happen because that's just the way the world is.  I heartily agree with him on that point.  Trying to figure out why something awful happened can become a fruitless and unending endeavor.  The world is fallen.  It will be set right one day, but for now, it is what it is.  Death, sadness, and suffering happen.

The thing Mr. Walsh said, though, that made me think most deeply was this:  God doesn't care like we care. He said God is so big and has such a cosmic, eternal perspective, that He views our problems as petty and very small.  Here, I believe, my view is different than his, though not perhaps as different as it would have been before my present trial.

I have come to see that God's perspective is vastly different than our own.  And it certainly is true that because He exists in eternity, He sees things in an entirely alternate light.  We see ourselves and our lives as occupying the very center of the universe.  God knows better.  In the eternal scheme of God's grand plan, man is but a breath.

But that doesn't mean that He doesn't care about our struggles and emotions.  He allowed Himself, in the form of His Son, to put on humanness.  He experienced what we experience.  He was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."  (Isaiah 53:3)  When He lost His friend Lazarus and saw everyone crying, He wept.  He could have said, knowing the glorious miracle He was planning, "Quit crying.  It's all going to work out in the end."  But He didn't.  He knew humans exist in the present, and He cried for their pain.

It's a glorious thing to have a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness.  (Hebrews 4:15)  That doesn't mean He does what we want Him to.  That doesn't mean He makes sure we're always happy.  But He does care.  God is not too big to care about our petty problems, He is so big that He both works in eternity and tenderly weeps for our grief.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Moving On

Well, I packed up all of our stuff, sold the old house and bought a new one.  We moved in a week ago Saturday and all I have to say is...


Words can't express how grateful I am to my wonderful church family and friends!  That was the easiest moving day I've ever experienced (and I've experienced quite a few.)  Fifteen guys (I'm guesstimating- they never stayed still long enough for me to count them) got all of my furniture and boxes moved in less than five hours.

(Sorry about wanting the couches upstairs!  But they do fit just right in the gameroom...)

They even moved the kids' playground (had to take down a portion of the fence for that)

and hooked up my washer and dryer

and then there were the guys who stayed and went the extra marathon ("extra mile" isn't descriptive enough) and put together the kids' beds and bookshelves for me.  Gotta love directions with no words!  It's like playing Pictionary- "Ummm, long plank screwed to flat!  I've got it!  Medium plank with small peg to flat board!!  Yes!"

A few days later, an amazing bunch of women made quick work of cleaning my old house and getting it ready for the new owners.  A few didn't make the photo, but are no less appreciated.  (Thanks for the picture, Donna!)

Young ones helped too!  

My aunt Marina flew in for the week to lend a hand.  Couldn't have done it without her!  She left a week ago Wednesday and we all miss her already.  Somehow Carsten didn't understand that she was leaving for good, and Thursday morning he said, "She's still not back?  I thought she was coming back!"

The unpacking is done (minus the study- thank you, Ikea, for failing to put the right pieces in the bookshelf box.)  Now I'm painting and rearranging and deciding how things should be organized.  Nathan has gotten us all up and running as far as our technology goes.  He also put the last of the furniture together.  All the kids are busy making friends in the neighborhood and exploring the area.

And for the men who had the bet going as to which kid would be out in the greenbelt first- it was actually Carsten!  (My money was on Justin.  You never can tell.)